Private Structures in the Right-of-Way (Fences, Rockeries, Walls)

Updated 12/2022

What is a Private Structures and Utility Long Term permit?  

Private uses in public-right-of-way such as retaining walls, fences, balconies, and stairs are permitted with an annually renewable Long Term Use permit. We permit structures on, below, or above the public right-of-way. Private structures are discouraged in the right-of-way. We encourage these uses to be located on private property unless there’s a reason why that is not feasible. In addition, we will consider if the private use can be sited in a way that meets our standards and priorities for transportation and utility uses of the public right-of-way before approving a private use. Locating uses on private property is also beneficial to the owner, as you may be required to be remove your private uses in the future. Additionally, Long Term permits include issuance, inspection, occupation fee (if applicable) and an annual renewal fee, subject to increases over time, see our Street Use Fee Schedule PDF on our How to Estimate and Pay Permit Fees webpage for more information. You must maintain the Long Term Use permit as long as the structure remains in the right-of-way. 

Ready to Apply? 

Click the Applicant Guide links below that apply to your project for more information about requirements and guidelines:  

Permit Renewal and Change in Ownership

Long Term Use permits are renewed annually. The yearly permit fees include the renewal fee and occupation fee (if applicable), see our Street Use Fee Schedule PDF on our How to Estimate and Pay Permit Fees webpage for more information. Payment can be made online. 

Need to make changes on your existing long term use permit? You can request a permit revision through our Seattle Services Portal

If there is a change in business or property ownership and no change to the use, the new owner must apply for a new Long Term Use permit. In the application, note “transfer of ownership” in the project description. In addition, the existing permit holder should submit a withdrawal amendment to notify us of the update through our permitting portal (so we will stop billing you for the annual fee!).   

Permit Duration

It’s important to understand that Long Term Use permits are temporary in nature and do not grant you permanent rights to occupy the public right-of-way. We may revoke permits pursuant to SMC 15.04.070. If a permit is revoked or terminated, the right-of-way shall be returned to its original condition. 


Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

Newsletter Updates


Sign up for the latest updates from Transportation

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.